Thursday, April 21, 2016

Guest Fiction Series: On The Other Side, Part 9

It was almost impossible to wake up the next morning. The aspirin that I took made me sleep longer than usual. When I woke up, the sun was shining through the blinds and onto the dresser mirror. I rolled over to see food on a tray beside me. The eggs and grits were cold.

What time is it?

The clock read 12:54.

Martin left for work at eight o’clock.

How could I have possibly slept that long? Maybe that wasn’t an aspirin that I took. This is crazy.

I knew that Martin had gone to work, so I was in no hurry to get out of bed. The bath last night helped alleviate some of the soreness that I would normally feel the next day. The last time he hit me, I stayed in the house for days. I couldn’t let that happen again. Instead of sulking in my despair, I made a trip into town. I knew that my face was bound to have some significant bruising, but I needed to go.

My wardrobe choice was leggings, a tank, sneakers, and sunglasses. There was no reason for me to look as horribly as I felt.

It was 2 o’clock when I left the house. I had no idea where I was headed, but I knew I had to go somewhere. A drive would help to ease my mind, calm my thoughts, and give me some much-needed relaxation. My Audi was like a second home to me. Whenever I needed to clear my head, I would drive, to the nearest quiet spot I could find. I would often drive into the rural areas at night so that I could watch the stars. I could never see the stars in the city. It was too early for that, so I drove around instead. After driving for about an hour, I drove to the nearest park that usually had the fewest amount of people.

I needed to run. Running gave me stability. It made me feel grounded. At that moment, stability was what I needed. The feel of the earth beneath my feet and the wind blowing in my hair took my mind off my reality. As I ran, I noticed the children on the playground.

I remember when my children were that age. I remember when I was that age when things were much simpler. There was no pain, only joy. Oh, the joys of being a child.

Being so focused on the children, I accidently ran into another runner. I landed on my butt.

“Are you okay miss?”

“I’m fine.”

He reached down to grab my hand, and the hand felt familiar. I was too embarrassed to look up, so I didn’t, until…


Glancing upwards, I would know those eyes anywhere. It was Ahmad. I ran into Ahmad.

“Hi, Ahmad.”

He helped me onto my feet.

“I’m starting to think that you’re on a mission to rescue me. I can’t count how many times you’ve saved me from my reality, and even my nightmares. What are you doing here?”

“I run here a lot. It’s a way for me to clear my mind. It’s relaxing. I haven’t been up here in a few weeks, though. I’ve been busy.But the one day that I choose to come and run, you’re here. I don’t believe in coincidences. Have you been here before?”

“Not particularly. I usually just go to the gym. But I needed to be in nature today.”

“Want to finish this lap, and then sit down and talk?”

“That’s fine with me.”

We took one more lap around the track in unison. I’d never had a running partner before. It was different, but I liked it. I liked the idea of knowing that no matter how slow or fast I ran, he would be right there with me.

We sat down on a bench near the entrance of the park, and he stared at me.

“Why are you staring at me?”

“You look so beautiful. Why do you have on sunglasses? Can I see your eyes?”

I winced at the thought. But I didn’t move, as he removed my glasses from my eyes.

“What happened?”

He touched the side of my eye that I’m sure looked worse than it felt.

“It’s nothing. I hit it on the side of the counter while I was bending to pick up something I dropped. As you’ve witnessed before, I tend to be quite clumsy.”

“This looks like more than just an accident, Kamaria. Are you sure there isn’t something you want to share with me?”

“We’ve only known each other a few weeks, Ahmad. There’s no need for me to burden you with my problems.”

“So you’re admitting that there is a problem?”

“Maybe a small one.But I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I always come out on top. I’ve been here before.  I just needed to get away and clear my head.”

“Well, why don’t you let me take care of you. I can help you get away. I have a cabin in Chattanooga. We can take a trip and maybe it will help to take your mind off of some things.”

“How would I ever go away for a few days without raising a red flag with my husband?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it. Just be ready.”

“Okay, I’m taking your word for it. But keep me updated on the plans. I don’t want to be completely out of the loop. Plus, the kids will be worried.”

“No one will have to worry. Just trust me. Send me your house number in a text message. I have an idea. ”

“Okay Mr. Jenkins, I think I can handle that.”

“Good, now let’s get you home.”

After leaving his presence, I felt the urge to talk to him, so I called. He stayed on the phone with me the entire ride home. We ended with the understanding that he would contact me about the trip plans. Ahmad was a great listener. I couldn’t say a lot while we were together. Being vulnerable with Ahmad was not something that I needed to do at the moment. It couldn’t possibly be a good thing. But I knew one thing, That wouldn’t be the last time we talked. I would open up to him more. Something about him made me want to be open and honest. Maybe this trip to Chattanooga would be a good thing, after all. We would just have to see.

When I got home, it was 4 o’clock. The kids hadn’t made it home yet, and there was no sign that Martin had been home. There were a few missed calls on the caller ID with one unheard message on the answering machine. I wondered who it was. No one ever called the house phone.

Hi, I am looking for a Mrs. Kamaria Smith. She has won an all-expense paid trip to a retreat in Los Angeles. This is specifically for Kamaria Smith. She must come and redeem her plane ticket by tomorrow at noon. Please give me a call back at 404-555-2341 before 6pm today. My name is James, and my extension is 43561. Have a blessed day.

This must have been his plan. I knew Ahmad’s voice anywhere. It was heavy. I found comfort in that voice. I was sure not to delete the message. I knew that If there were any chance of this working, Martin would have to hear the message for himself. He would have to speak with someone. There’s no way he would believe it, coming from me. I sent Ahmad a text, thanking him for his time and telling him that I hoped his plan worked. I did need the getaway. I haven’t been anywhere without Martin since the first year of our marriage. I needed it more than anything. If nothing else, at least I could get to know Ahmad a little better. 


Verina Wherry is a writer, poet, and aspiring author who spends her free time listening to music, shopping for incense and watching Criminal Minds reruns.

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